Merry Christmas Eve!!

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Hello Friends!! It’s been a while since I blogged, but most of you know it’s been a year of healing for me after losing my mom…and I am starting to feel like “me” again. A slightly different “me” but good, nonetheless. In all this processing time, I have still been very fiber busy. Here’s a few updates from finished products. The pic above is my newest muse..free form tapestry weaving. I. Love. It. Here’s another:

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And a knit/woven scarf:

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A hoodie for my nephew for Christmas:

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And, probably one of the biggest decisions I have made..in January I’m starting the process to become a certified Holy Yoga Instructor. In a nutshell, it’s all the benefits of yoga but connected to the Christian faith, which is how I have been practicing anyway. I love the idea of helping others discover that path. And I have mentioned before how much yoga and knitting are such a great combination..I truly believe that yoga has saved my wrists and improved my posture. So, you’ll be hearing more about that adventure on this blog as well.
I hope you all have an amazing and beautiful Christmas!
Leah

Quick post from the sky!

Disclaimer! I wrote this post on the plane right before vacation.. And then lost wifi for a week (which was not a bad thing). Stay tuned for part 2, and a spinning update!

IMG_0533.JPGTwo weeks ago, my husband asked me how I felt about taking a random vacation. We haven’t had one in quite a while, and it’s been a tough year emotionally. So, he picked it, planned it, and didn’t tell me until we were in the airport! All I knew was it would be warm and sunny..and that’s all I needed to know!

And right now, we are headed to Puerto Rico!!!!

I have to admit…and I know we all go through these times…my knitting mojo was on a break. I just started a new job (same organization but bigger job) which has been awesome and draining. My knitting-in-the-car time turned into catch-up-on-email time. I don’t know about you, but knitting does this zen-like relaxing thing for me and I’ve missed it!

So I grabbed my Arabella sweater for the trip. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a serious airplane knitter. I have finished the back of the sweater, and now I’m on the front. It is a great knit, but with fine yarn and size 4 needles, I kinda got in a rut. But I’m back. Even this time on the plane has been so nice and grounding, and in a few hours I will be sitting at the beach…getting all my mojo back!

I wanted to do a progress pic…but my connection just got wonky. I’ll add it to Instagram…and I can pretty much promise some more awesome Instagram shots throughout the week!

Spin and knit on!

Meet the Seattle Sweater..My First Pattern in Knitty!!

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This is crazy. And awesome. Beyond exciting. I am in the Knitty Deep Fall Issue

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This is a blog post I’ve been holding on to ever since I got the email from Knitty saying my sweater pattern was accepted..and I can’t really believe I’m writing it.

I learned to knit when I lived in Japan..about 15 years ago. My resources were limited, and I had some really inspiring books, but there were just “things” I didn’t get. Then I found Knitty, and at the turn of each new season I would wait for the new issue, skim through the patterns, and plan my next project. Not until this spring did I ever think I would be behind one of those patterns.

In March, I went to the Vogue Knitting Live workshop and took a class from Josh Bennett. I had to bring a design concept to the class (that was an “oh, crap” moment, since I thought I was going to learn how to do that), with a swatch (Yoinks!) I knew I wanted something unusual and something that would be fun to knit..each section had to be a little different.

I started knitting it out…and it was like magic. You know how sometimes the ideas in our heads don’t always pan out the way we think they will in real life? This one kept getting better and better. I fell in love with the sweater.

Then I entered one of the most difficult seasons of my life..the last month of my time with my mom before she passed away from cancer. She saw the design completed..she was so excited that I had gone to a “Vogue” event. She knew I was submitting it, she and was excited for me.

Sometimes life gets too heavy..even to move your dreams forward. I didn’t have the mental capacity to convert the design to a written pattern in time for the June 1st deadline. I let it go..and decided to wait for another time so I could focus on family and returning to work after Mom passed.

In a moment..that changed. The Knitty editors extended the deadline by two weeks, and I knew that was my chance. I buried myself in the final stages and got the design to Knitty by the new deadline.

So, this is a double joy for me..knowing it was something I shared with her that she would celebrate with me now. I’m a little teary as I write this..but this one’s for you, Mom! I know you get it.🙂

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Blog Hop Around the World!

Ok, this is fun!! Valerie, from Intricate Knits was asked to post in a Blog Hop Around the World, and then she passed the baton to me.

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The photo above is just one example of her beautiful work. I’ve been intrigued with her style and the beautiful complexity/original nature of her work. Needless to say, it’s pretty awesome to follow in this blog chain after her! Please take time to browse her site..it’s one to linger on and be inspired!
So here are the questions:
1. What are you working on?

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At the moment, I am on a break between sweater designs and knitting the beautiful Arabella Sweater. I love Brooklyn Tweed yarn and designs, and I also enjoy picking up great knitting tips from designers who have been doing this long enough to come up with amazing new ways to do simple things. I’ve also got a scarf on the loom from yarn that I picked up from Jamie at Cooke Creek Sheep Company. She sells beautiful fleeces that are skirted and washed and are wonderful for spinning. I’m working with some yarn from her farm to create a scarf pattern for her to use..let me tell you, the yarn is amazing for weaving and would also make incredible socks. And.. I’m starting to design a cabled cotton sweater for my husband..we will see how that goes! The photo below is my inspiration for his sweater..warm, cozy grey.

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2. How does my work differ from others?
In the sweater design area, I’m just getting my sea legs. One design is self published, my Alki Beach Sweater and the second will be published and launched any day now (stay tuned..squeeeee!) When it comes to spinning, I love, love, love spinning from a fleece I have washed. Sometimes carded, sometimes straight from the locks. It’s like free form art to me..and I am highly inspired by nature. While my work is unique, I think my motivation is also different from others. I work at a large non profit global relief and development organization, and I have a passion for organizations that take us beyond our own spaces…and into areas and lives that are so very different from our own. A few years ago I ran across an organization called Awamaki which is one of the best examples of sustainable development work in Peru..that happens to focus of women who are weavers, knitters, and spinners. All of the items I sell on my Etsy store go to support this organization. It’s one small way I can share my love for creating with my passion for helping others.
3. Why do I create what I do?
Like many fiber artists, I am very moved by the beauty of the world around me. I try to create based on the emotions and impressions that I’ve experienced through nature. That’s why so many of my blogging pictures involve hiking, camping, and kayaking. I see that, feel it, and want to bring it to life through another medium. I think that’s reflected more in the yarn I spin than anything else, but I’m starting to develop that ease of association with my designs.
4. How does my creative process work?
This depends on the medium. For spinning yarn, it’s often a burst of inspiration that comes from a scene outdoors. Walks in the forest, wild flowers, madrona trees, and unexpected bursts of color. For knitting, it’s a combination of trying to create a design that resonates with a place and then expresses that in a way that is unusual. In other words..I’m looking for something that I’ve never seen before..and then I add a twist. It doesn’t always work..I have a piled of designs that “seemed like a good idea at the time..!”
So now I get to pass the baton to a blog I love to read, Local and Bespoke. Here we go from Seattle to South Australia! Here’s a clip from her “about” page: “I live in Adelaide, South Australia. This blog is about making useful, one-of-a-kind things, mostly from local and recycled materials. It’s about growing plants, natural dyeing, spinning, knitting, sewing… and anything else that takes my fancy as the story unfolds.”
Come with me to check out Local and Bespoke as we blog hop around the world!

Spin and knit on!

Arabella Update (and a pro tip!)

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I wish I could show you a better progress pic of my Arabella Sweater but I can’t because I am camping and didn’t pack it all. I’ve finished the back piece and it is truly lovely..and a very enjoyable knit.
So here I am, in a tent again..enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and today is pouring with rain. Which is totally good..a nice relaxing day in the tent, even for Oliver.

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So, while this is a great knit, there’s also some serious row tracking going on. I thought I would use that opportunity to share with you one of my favorite digital tools: Stitchminder.

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It’s an iPhone app that has saved me tons of scrap paper and probably some sanity. In fact, because I travel so much it helps me stay on track on a project without too much hassle. A guy on a plane asked me one time what I was using because he had accidentally thrown away his girlfriend’s notes on a project, and he thought if he gifted her the app he might get out if the doghouse!!
Here’s how I used the example photo above.
The top row represents the 35 row garter ridge repeat.
The next row represents the 6 row cable repeat.
The 3rd row represents the amount of decrease rows completed.
The 4th row represents the row count for the decrease pattern.

Game changing stitch tracker, I tell ya! What are different ways you keep track of your stitches?

Spin and knit on!

My First Pattern Release! The Alki Beach Sweater

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Bam!  There it is!  Okay, this is actually my second pattern release, but the first is top secret until it’s (squee!) published in the beginning of September.  Stay tuned for MASSIVE excitement then.

In the meantime, here’s my Alki Beach sweater, modeled by my awesome sister Katie.  I loved designing this sweater.  It’s made for the transitional season–or for those of you who live in warmer climates.  A linen/cotton blend..what more you you ask for?  How about an  unexpected element to the design when you turn around?  IMG_6096

The pattern is available on Ravelry. There’s more pix there, but the best ones are the outtakes from the photo shoot.  Ready for some fun? IMG_6093

 

 

A true “little sister/big sister moment!”  We’re both totally guessing at how to set up the shot while my patient and talented husband took the pix.

 

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Then there’s the “Can I steal your hat?” pic which was clearly not Katie’s favorite idea. She’s a trooper, but in all fairness, she did get a custom made original sweater out of the deal.

 

If you are a knitter, this is a pretty easy pattern–great for car knitting, movies, or just chilling with friends. The design is kind to every body shape, and the drape of the linen and cotton just rocks. Get the pattern here!IMG_6099

Thanks for sharing my excitement with me..more to come soon, but in the meantime..

Spin and knit on!

Product or Process?

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Before I start with this string of thoughts..I have to say I am convinced there is no right or wrong answer.  In fact, labels in general make me nervous when it comes to creative work.  

But recently, I have been thinking a lot about the creative process and what my reason is for doing what I do. I think I fall more on the process side, but let me explain how I got there.

“Product” knitting, spinning, or weaving is motivated by the finished item more than the time or journey it takes to get there. I am very much a product weaver..I don’t love warping the loom, and I enjoy the weaving part but I love, love, love the moment of unwinding a piece from the loom and looking at the fabric I made.

For spinning I am mixed. If it’s art yarn, I love the process. More utility yarn becomes a zen like process, but I still want to get to the final yarn so I can make something from it. On the other hand, I love washing and preparing a fleece to spin..and there’s nothing efficient or quick about that.

Knitting is a mix as well, but I am more of a process knitter. For a long drive, flight or TV show I have to have knitting in my hands. I like detailed patterns..I would rather have an interesting challenge than a fast knit. In fact, my channel cardigan took several weeks, but as I wrote earlier, it carried me through a difficult time.

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently on designing sweaters. During that experience I have realized how much of a process knitter I am. I like details, and I like changes. If it begins to feel routine, I don’t enjoy it as much.

When I took Josh Bennet’s design class at Vogue Knitting Live, we had 1:1’s with him at the end, and he have me a piece of advice that was probably the best I will ever get when it comes to design. I was debating between two techniques for the front of my sweater. One idea involved a lot of weaving in ends and I was concerned people would consider that tedious. He said “Don’t ever dumb down your designs to make them easier..it doesn’t honor you or the people you are designing for.” Simple advice, but golden.

So how about you? Are you a product or process maker?

Weekend Knitting, Camping, Kayaking and SUPPing Adventures (in pictures)

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Knitting on the beach…

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Bump on a log…

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Bump on a log part 2..

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Knitting + Kayak + Dog + Hubs fishing off the back of the kayak = peace🙂

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A little SUP and yoga..(yoga is sooo good for knitting and sore wrists!!)

And a nap. Nice weekend!

Spin and knit on!